Lesotho international Taekwondo star Michelle Tau is now ranked number one in the under 46-kilogram female category on the African continent and seventh globally.
This is according to the World Kyorugi Rankings released this week.
The beauty queen- turned taekwondo star, has improved on her previous second-place ranking in the continental rankings and from 12th place in the global rankings.
In an exclusive interview with Newsday Sports this week, Tau said her rise in the rankings was down to the good performances she has been putting in lately, especially in the 7th Egypt Open, where she won gold and silver medals in February this year.
Despite her growing international status, Tau is running short on sponsors and has subsequently missed out on participating in two international competitions in Canada and the United States of America (USA).
The tournaments are crucial in her journey in accumulating points as she prepares for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Tau is currently training in Ivory Coast as her visa to enter Belgium has since expired. She must train in Belgium as part of her Olympic Solidarity Scholarships Programme to prepare for the Paris 2024 Olympics.
She is set to miss two more competitions in Belgium and Holland this month due to the lack of finances.
â€œSadly I will miss Dutch and Belgium tournaments as I still donâ€™t have a sponsor for those competitions too. Iâ€™m heartbroken,â€ she said.
“I was number two now I am number one in Africa and before I was number 10 in the world, but because of not participating in previous competitions I dropped to number 12. So now after I worked so hard, especially in Egypt, I am number seven in the world.â€
She is afraid she will regress in the rankings if she continues to miss participating in international tournaments.
“I am going to drop the ranks again if I do not participate in the upcoming competitions in Belgium and Holland. I have missed two important competitions and other athletes are going to go up the ranks as I drop down.â€
Tau said she was gearing up for the World Championships and the First Grand Prix Series, which is an Olympic category in which only 32 taekwondo athletes in the world participate.
Meanwhile, a social media-based fundraising campaign to raise funds for Tau to ensure she does not miss more competitions has been set up by well-wishers who saw her plight.